Tackle David Sharpe
One door closes, and another opens.
The door has officially shut on the rest of Donald Penn's season, as Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio confirmed Monday afternoon the veteran left tackle would miss the remainder of the 2017 campaign with a foot injury.
"It is true that Donald Penn will have surgery Wednesday and will be out the remainder of the year," said Del Rio during his press conference.
While this news is understandably a devastating blow to the offensive line, rookie left tackle David Sharpe sees an opportunity on the horizon.
"Very excited," he said when asked about the possibility of playing this week. "Definitely trying to go earn it this week in practice, it's a big 'earn it' thing. Just be locked in and focused all week, and hopefully get it going."
The former University of Florida Gator was drafted by the Silver and Black in the fourth-round (No. 129 overall) and has spent a majority of his time on game day as a healthy scratch, seeing just three offensive snaps so far in 2017.
Del Rio emphasizes the phrase "you get what you earn in this league," and at this point Sharpe hasn't earned the right for more reps, but that's not to say he won't in the future. With a slew of veteran talent in front of him, Sharpe is sitting in the wings absorbing as much knowledge as possible; however, with Penn sidelined for the foreseeable future, his moment could be coming soon.
"We'll see how the week goes," said Del Rio regarding Sharpe's availability for Monday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. "That's why he's here, and then obviously the way we finished the game the other night is an option, so we've got some work to do through the week in practice and see how guys prepare and how they work. [Offensive line] Coach [Mike] Tice, obviously, and I will talk about that and [offensive coordinator] Todd [Downing] and kind of work through it and make the decision that is best for us."
In the three offensive snaps Sharpe played, No. 71 wasn't pleased with his production. To be fair, it was the Jacksonville, Fla., native's first game in the NFL, and the professional level can take a while to get used to. As someone who takes pride in his craft, the 22 year old is aware of the things he did wrong, and has made the adjustments necessary to move forward.
"[It] made me want more," Sharpe said in reference to his playing time in Week 13. "If I do get the opportunity, I definitely can't wait to get out there. It wasn't the best of snaps, but it was definitely a learning experience."
For most rookies, the best way for them to learn is by being thrown into the action, and getting their toes wet with some live reps. While this may be the case for Sharpe, he's been blessed with several veterans in the locker room who have excelled in the NFL at a high level for years now, and he's grateful for them.
"I just got a great group of guys around me," Sharpe continued. "Talking to [tackle] Marshall [Newhouse], talking to D.P. [left tackle Donald Penn] too. Just keeping my composure, motivational things, and just understanding the playbook, and making sure my technique is correct. I've got a great coach in Tice, and he's making sure I'm on point."
As Del Rio said, no decision has been made on how much Sharpe will fill in for the injured Penn for the rest of the year, but watching his progress in practice will be a storyline going forward. If he does get his opportunity to play Monday night in Philly, he'll face a stout Eagles defense that's the best run-stopping unit in the league that's allowing a mere 71.5 rushing yards per game.